Voice and swallowing assessment and intervention is almost by definition interdisciplinary. Patient referrals come from a very wide variety of medical specialties, and patients quite frequently present with conditions and syndromes that are multifactorial. This is a challenge in initial assessment. But it is the way of voice and swallow clinics.
As an illustration, there is a retrospective chart review in the Journal of Voice (Hess HE, Barone NA, Daniero JJ, 2020 May;34(3):435-441. doi: 10.1016/j.jvoice.2018.10.005. Epub 2018 Nov 3), of patients who received interdisciplinary evaluation in the University of Virginia Health System’s Voice and Swallowing Center. Their reasons for referral and the disciplines from which they were referred are tabulated in detail.
The most common complaints were dysphonia (34.8%), dyspnea/paradoxical vocal fold motion (20.2%), and dysphagia (18%). The cases most likely to require an interdisciplinary evaluation were dysphonia, irritable larynx syndrome/chronic cough, and PVFM. Referrals most commonly originated from primary care providers (26%) and otolaryngology (22%). Interestingly, the discipline of the referrer was by itself not a strong predictor of the type of evaluation needed.
This study confirms the basic centrality of voice and swallow functionality across an extremely wide range of medical syndromes and specialties.
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